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The Garden Classroom (TGC), originally a not-for-profit social enterprise and since August 2016 a registered charity, was formed by CEO Marnie Rose in November 2008. A founder member of multi-award-winning King Henry’s Walk Community Garden Marnie formed TGC with a vision of inner-city London children and young people living fuller, richer lives through discovering the complexities and joys of the natural world. Marnie planned to provide high quality experiences that cultivated an interest in the natural world so the children would understand nature and protect it. As more and more evidence shows, everyone benefits from an appreciation and connection with nature.

Together with Rosey Lyall, an ex Headteacher (who became TGC’s first Trustee) Marnie and Rosey gathered together a group who shared their vision. Over the past fifteen years this group, now a board of trustees, has changed and now comprises a diverse group of people who provide counsel with backgrounds in business and finance, marketing and PR, nature and education.

In its first year TGC worked with five local schools to deliver 30 nature sessions at King Henry’s Walk Garden. It grew and grew and in 2021/22 TGC delivered 1244 sessions in carefully researched public parks and green spaces close to schools in Islington, Hackney and Westminster. That’s 30,000 visits and a total of 13,320 children, young people and adults who benefited.

Although education and wellbeing are at the core of TGC’s work it has always aimed to respond to the needs of the community. TGC now offers countryside residentials in Kent and Sussex, an Urban Forest School service, accredited outdoor education training courses and community events with a wide range of activities for ages 0-80+.

Over the last three years TGC has been developing climate change and sustainability programmes and these have proved popular with primary schools. By 2025 all schools will need to have a climate action plan in place and have embedded sustainability in all they do. TGC is working hard to support schools as they grapple with the requirements of the new curriculum.

With a team of 18 full and part-time staff and a crew of freelancers, TGC is well-placed to meet new challenges and opportunities. It’s a great team, recognised recently as winners of the School Travel Awards’ Education Team of the Year. TGC looks forward to supporting the long-term health and happiness of their local communities and inspiring them to nurture and care for the environment.

“I have been impressed with TGC’s achievements over many years and as a trustee of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom I am delighted that TGC has held our quality badge for over a decade. As president of the National Association for Environmental Education, I recognise that TGC is the most comprehensive outdoor education specialist service provider in London. They have created something which is inspirational and timely and which benefits thousands of young people every year”.

Professor Justin Dillon from UCL, January 2024
  • Council for Learning Outside the Classroom Award
  • Campaigning for Brilliant Residuals
  • Winner School Travel Awards